Harper condemns violence in Libya

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen during an exclusive interview in his office on Parliament...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen during an exclusive interview in his office on Parliament Hill Ottawa Wed Sept 13, 2012. (QMI Agency/ANDRE FORGET)

DANIEL PROUSSALIDIS, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 9:24 PM ET

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has two words for the Islamist forces unleashed in Libya after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

"It's horrific, disgusting," Harper said in an exclusive interview with Sun News Network host Brian Lilley.

Harper's comments come after this week's terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that saw four Americans murdered, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The prime minister says it's simply assumed diplomats will be able to do their work safely.

"They're not signing up for military service," he said. "So, this is very troubling and obviously something that we're going to have to look at very closely."

While there is no change at the Canadian embassy in Libya, officials did shut the embassy in neighbouring Egypt for the day on Thursday.

Violent mobs whipped up by Islamist leaders have protested for days outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, blocking access to the nearby Canadian embassy.

Despite the Arab Spring's regime changes, there have also been fierce anti-Western protests in Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere.

Harper says that's not surprising.

"Mob rule is not democracy," Harper said. "Just because there's a popular overthrow of a dictator, does not mean the next regime will necessarily be based on democratic norms."

He has long been cautious in his expectations for the Middle East and North Africa, given little evidence for increased respect for minorities and women there.

"The development of democratic societies, traditions (and) institutions is a process that requires a lot of work, and obviously the situation varies radically from country to country," he said.

Meantime, Harper confirmed security concerns were at the heart of the decision to close down Canada's embassy in Tehran, blaming violence incited by the Iranian government against the British embassy there.

He says he's very comfortable with the decision to pull our diplomats out of Iran.

"It's the right thing to do for all kinds of reasons, but obviously when you can't be certain - as we could no longer be certain - of the security of our diplomatic personnel, this is the measure we have to take," he said.


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